Seeing the point

Fells Point, which began as a maritime community, has evolved into a thriving retail and dining district. For a fun way to visit the neighborhood, try hopping a ride on a water taxi from the Inner Harbor.

But by all means, be sure to venture off the main drag and explore this neighborhood's wonderful side streets. While there are many great shops and restaurants on Thames Street and Broadway surrounding the square, some charming spots are tucked away.

Create your own walking tour or follow the one prepared by The Fells Point Visitor Center.

Here are some noteworthy shops and restaurants in the area. Many are closed on Mondays, and the hours change seasonally, so it's best to call ahead.

1623 Thames St.

This new, wonderfully whimsical store carries the latest specialty toys. Owner Deirdre Nissenson is truly a kid at heart, and she has done a great job selecting toys that delight both young and old.

Don't Miss: Frigits ($21.95), a building toy where you design and construct a marble maze for your refrigerator door.

Su Casa
1625 Thames St.

Owner Nicholas Johnson put himself through college by running the hip Fells Point landmark The Big Iguana. His newest endeavor is a home furnishings store chock full of products for home and garden.

Don't Miss: The custom line of "flat packed" modified slipcovered furniture. Prices start at around $565 including delivery and in-home assembly.

Ten Thousand Villages
1621 Thames St.

This shop carries a variety of handmade items, including musical instruments, linens, toys, baskets and jewelry from around the world. This is a "fair trade" shop providing an income to low-income artisans in developing countries.

Don't Miss: The beautiful cobalt blue pottery from Vietnam.

Grrreat Bears and Childhood Delights
1643 Thames St.

This classic toy shop has been around Fells Point for many years. Just recently taken over by Heather and Christopher Rondholz, the store is filled to the rafters with beautiful stuffed animals and playthings. It also carries lovely dollhouse furnishings and books. Beware, you probably will go home with a new friend or two.

Don't Miss : The 2002 World Cup commemorative Beanie Baby bears.

Southern Accent and the Petticoat Tearoom
814 S. Broadway

Southern Accent is a delightful home furnishings store, carrying everything from unusual drawer pulls to stuffed cats. Most items are for the bed or bath, but owner Kitty Knoedler tries to cover all her bases.

The store provides a wonderful gateway to Kitty's charming Victorian tearoom which is open for lunch, afternoon tea, high tea and even tinkerbell tea for youngsters as well as for special occasions such as bridal showers or birthdays. Reservations are required. The cost is $15.95 per person for the afternoon tea and $24.95 for the high tea.

Don't Miss: The Vicksburg tomato finger sandwich.

Fells Point Flower Shoppe
614 S. Broadway

Lisa Chaplin Suit is one of Fells Point's many female shop owners, entrepreneurs and neighborhood advocates. Her unusual flower boutique features made-to-order arrangements in silk, dried or fresh flowers. She does stock some cut flowers for walk-in customers, but custom orders seem to be her specialty.

Don't Miss: The creative faux desserts made with dried flowers, featuring petit fours, layer cakes and ice-cream sundaes.

Another Period in Time
1708-1710 Fleet St.

Fells Point has long been known for antique shops. This one offers variety all under one roof. More then 15 dealers sell their wares, including glass, pottery, art, coins and jewelry. Owner Joe Frank is president of the Fells Point Antique Dealers Association, and his shop is filled with quality finds.

Don't Miss: The Baltimore Orioles and Colts memorabilia.

The Baltimore Exchange Co.
1716 Aliceanna St.

This funky gift shop features fun, original and functional wares for your home and you. The owners make it a point to support local artists and recently opened a gallery space on the second floor to showcase local talent. Check out the whimsical wooden hand mirrors by local artist Dave Neformes and decorated by his wife, Jane, and their 10-year-old daughter Andi. They are a hoot.

Don't Miss: Cigar box purses by local artist Leann Santos.

A Good Yarn
1738 Aliceanna St.

With an inventory of yarns from around the world, proprietor Lorraine Gaudet has quite a following. She offers a regular Saturday morning coffee and knitting group as well a lunch bunch, commuter and dinner crew sessions throughout the week and other skill-based specialty classes on the weekends.

The yarn selection in the shop is unusual and extensive. Stop in and be prepared to spend an afternoon knitting and chatting.

Don't Miss : The Saturday morning coffee klatch.

The Broadway Market
Broadway between Fleet and Aliceanna Streets

This public market has been in the same spot since its founding in 1780. Today it features ethnic and American food, as well as fresh vegetables, meats, seafood, coffee and cheese.

The Blue Moon Café & Espresso Bar
1621 Aliceanna St.

A cozy eatery owned by mother and daughter chefs Sarah and Sherry Simington.

Peter's Inn
504 S. Ann St.

A New Age neighborhood joint with a menu that changes weekly. There is at least one vegetarian dish, and the house specialty is Mason jar margaritas.

Ze Mean Bean Cafe
1739 Fleet St.

An Eastern European cafe and wine bar that serves food with a Slavic slant.

Liquid Earth
1626 Aliceanna St.

A vegetarian restaurant, juice and coffee bar with a great selection of fresh squeezed juice blends and smoothies.

Bonaparte Breads
903 S. Ann St.

An authentic French bakery turning out some of the best breads and pastries in the city.

Visit the Fells Point Visitor Center, 808 S. Ann St., 410-675-6750, The center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.